H-1B Visas and the STEM Shortage: A Research Brief

16 Pages Posted: 10 May 2013 Last revised: 13 May 2013

See all articles by Jonathan T. Rothwell

Jonathan T. Rothwell

Gallup; George Washington University Institute of Public Policy

Neil Ruiz

Brookings Institution

Date Written: May 11, 2013


The Senate introduced a landmark comprehensive immigration reform bill last month that has the potential to both increase the number of available H-1B visas for skilled foreigners working in specialty occupations and shift the U.S. employment-based visa system to a more merit-based scheme that favors science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers. As the Congressional process moves forward, debate continues over the role of immigrants in the U.S. labor market. Focusing on demand-side arguments, businesses say they cannot find the skills they need from the domestic labor pool and need access to a global pool of skilled workers. On the other hand, some analysts have argued that there are plenty of U.S. native-born workers who can do these jobs. Such positions fit into a broader literature analyzing whether or not there is a sufficient supply of STEM workers to meet employer demands and foster innovation. This article examines new and rarely-used metrics on the supply and demand for STEM occupations in an effort to inform public policy and better understand the market for STEM workers and H-1B visas.

Keywords: STEM, H-1B, technology, immigration, skills

Suggested Citation

Rothwell, Jonathan T. and Ruiz, Neil, H-1B Visas and the STEM Shortage: A Research Brief (May 11, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2262872 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2262872

Jonathan T. Rothwell (Contact Author)

Gallup ( email )

901 F St NW
Washington, DC 20004
United States

George Washington University Institute of Public Policy ( email )

2121 I Street NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States

Neil Ruiz

Brookings Institution ( email )

1775 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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